7 tips for handling a layover

To layover, or not to layover, that is the question. For many travellers, a layover can be unavoidable, and the only thing to do is make the best of it. Others choose a layover intentionally to maximize their travel experience. Whatever your situation, the trick is to be prepared. Even if you’re only on the ground for a few hours, deciding in advance whether to stay at the airport, or leave and come back in time for your connecting flight, can help you take advantage of whatever time you have available.

For those unexpected layovers, making sure you have travel insurance with benefits for trip cancellation, interruption, and delay can also ensure your wallet doesn't take an unnecessary hit. Here are some layover tips to help make the most of your time.

Many flights have to be broken up into segments for several reasons. These include stops to refuel the airplane, pick up or drop off passengers and enable travellers to connect on non-direct routes. If you’re not interested in deplaning and exploring a new city—or airport—make sure you book only on direct routes or flights where passengers do not disembark from the aircraft.
A layover typically refers to a connection point between cities, sometimes as short as 30 minutes or as long as 23 hours. A stopover refers to passengers breaking up a trip by staying longer than 24 hours in any given city when travelling internationally. Savvy travellers often build itineraries around stopovers so they can add in a night in Paris or Rome if it suits, and often play the ‘air miles game’ where the stopover enhances their points or status.

Depending on the length of the layover you can, and should, leave the airport. While trying to zip in to the heart of Amsterdam to visit the flower market on a three-hour layover isn’t a good idea, a longer layover may deserve breathing in some non-airport air, even if it is just in the hotel attached to the airport. To make the most of a short layover, get to know the airport ahead of time and plan accordingly. Eat a good meal, get a pedicure, go for a walk or workout, or take a nap. But be sure to set an alarm so you don't miss your next flight. Some airports really excel at on-the-ground entertainment: Singapore Changi airport features a huge slide, while San Francisco airport has exceptional spas and play areas.

Modern airports offer a wealth of services, often within the secure area. Make sure to leave enough time to go through security again when leaving the secure area for your connecting flight. Otherwise, you may miss your flight.  

On a layover flight, the airline will take control of your baggage at departure and return it only upon arrival. Listen closely to the instructions given about baggage, and ask a flight attendant or service desk if you have any questions. If you are on a long layover and will need a change of clothes, workout gear, a toothbrush or access to children’s items make sure to put those in carry-on so that you can minimize your luggage for a layover. If you're changing airlines, you'll need to collect all your luggage and go through security again. This makes it harder to leave the airport - no one wants to lug a big suitcase out for dinner in Manhattan - but many large airports will have lockers or luggage valets to allow for lighter travel when exploring the local sights.

Airports offer many ways to pass the time while waiting for your connected flight. Here are some ways you could fill up your time and make the most of your airport stay.

  1. Catch up on sleep

    An important tip for long layovers is to get a hotel room. Anything longer than 12 hours will require a mental and physical rest. As a rule, airport floors are not comfortable, and anyway, everyone needs a bit of privacy. A hotel bed, hot shower and your own pajamas will make overnight layover trips much more enjoyable. If travelling with young children, a clean, quiet space to rest, regroup and recharge is a must. Families should plan ahead by finding out which airport play areas and child-friendly restaurants are available at their layover airport.
  2. Exercise at an airport fitness centre
  3. Sitting for an excessive amount of time can be dangerous so if the airport you’re spending your long layover has a gym, why not take advantage of its cardio machines and weights to get your blood circulating. Some airports even offer yoga areas. If you’re working up a sweat, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to take a shower before your flight.
  4. If the airport doesn’t have a gym, go for a walk around the airport and take the opportunity to go people watching. You could also find a space to do your own exercises such as squats, stretching, and sit-ups.
  5. Watch your favourite shows

    If you have a Netflix or Amazon Prime account, why not explore the TV and movie selection of the country you’re temporarily staying in. Alternatively, you may also download the show you’d like to see before leaving and view it offline.
  6.  Ue the lounge facilities

  7. Long layovers offer the savvy traveller an opportunity to try the local cuisine in a new city, explore a new neighbourhood or museum - even if just for a short time - and take some deep breaths.
  8.  Leave the airport

  9.  Long layovers offer the savvy traveller an opportunity to try the local cuisine in a new city, explore a new neighbourhood or museum - even if just for a short time - and take some deep breaths.

Amsterdam Schiphol airport easily connects from the airport to the city by using public transportation. A train ride from the airport to the city centre only takes about 20 minutes by train. If you have more than a four-hour layover, don’t miss out on visiting Amsterdam.

Frankfurt am Main is one of the major airport hubs in Europe and like Amsterdam Schiphol airport, it is located nearby the city centre and also provides excellent public transportation.

Dubai airport is conveniently connected directly to the city centre by a subway system. If you prefer to stay cool and avoid being outside in the hot desert temperatures, you can use the subway (Metro) from the airport to the city centre and to Dubai Mall. If you have the time, visit one of Dubai’s main attraction, the Burj Khalifa.

Singapore airport is one of the most spectacular airports in the world and you may not even want to leave the airport during your long layover! All terminals offer playgrounds for kids, an arcade, and movie theatres. If you do decide to explore the city, visit the infinity pool on the Marina Bay Sands Hotel or the Gardens by the Bay.

Las Vegas airport is a short ride to the south end of the Strip. This could be a fun way to spend your time, before taking off on your connecting flight. 

Trip interruption and delay benefits, included in the Cancellation Plan or bundled in the Medical + Cancellation Plan offered by Allianz Global Assistance, may come in handy in situations where your return home is extended well-beyond its scheduled time by the airline, due to covered reasons as outlined in the policy such as weather or labour disruptions, air traffic control issues, or mechanical issues.

In these and other eligible situations, your policy may provide for reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses for meals and accommodations. Check the “Benefits, Coverages, Exclusions and Limitations” sections of the policy to be familiar with those eligible circumstances for reimbursement.

For extra comfort, download the TripWise mobile app from Allianz Global Assistance, which includes a useful flight tracker so you can stay up to date on unexpected flight changes.

If you are unsure about your coverage or have any questions, you can call Allianz Global Assistance at 1-844-310-1578.

Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc.

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